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Thousands attend Jerusalem funeral of top rabbi who died from COVID-19

Aharon Hadash was spiritual leader of world-famous Mir Yeshiva; institute said to have made deal with police on size of crowd but participants violate guidelines en masse

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend the funeral of late Rabbi Aharon David Hadash, spiritual leader of the Mir Yeshiva, in Jerusalem, on December 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend the funeral of late Rabbi Aharon David Hadash, spiritual leader of the Mir Yeshiva, in Jerusalem, on December 3, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thousands of people took part in a Jerusalem funeral procession Thursday for a senior ultra-Orthodox rabbi who died after being infected with the coronavirus, with many disregarding Health Ministry social distancing rules.

Rabbi Aharon David Hadash, who died overnight Wednesday at the age of 93, was the spiritual leader of the world-famous Mir Yeshiva, one of the largest and most famous Talmudic colleges. He reportedly was diagnosed with COVID-19 two months ago and, although initially thought to be making a recovery, his condition recently deteriorated.

Funerals are currently limited to 20 people under government-mandated restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Yeshiva representatives were said to have reached an understanding with the Israel Police to enable a larger number of people to attend the funeral– with participants separated into groups of limited numbers that would maintain social distancing among themselves.

However, footage from the event showed a complete lack of adherence to such a formula, with masses violating social distancing requirements. Many attendants were also not wearing face masks.

The funeral procession set off from the yeshiva building located in the Beit Israel neighborhood in the center of Jerusalem.

Minor scuffles broke out as police tried to block mourners taking part in the funeral procession from advancing beyond the Kikar Hashabat intersection, according to video aired by the Kan public broadcaster.

Mourners later threw rocks at police during the funeral procession, injuring two officers, Hebrew media reports said.

An officer struck in the head by a rock was reportedly taken to a hospital.

Hadash was to be buried in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in the Givat Shaul neighborhood.

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